Top 5 QB prospects for 2014 draft

Teddy Bridgewater, Aaron Murray and Marcus Mariota all project to be NFL quarterbacks. US Presswire

Much of the talk surrounding the quarterbacks at last week's NFL draft focused on the lack of elite talent in the 2013 class. While ESPN colleague Trent Dilfer may be spot-on in saying that "the real value at the position will come in the middle rounds," impatient fan bases want answers now, and those answers include quarterbacks deemed to be franchise difference-makers. This has been pronounced by the fact that last year's QB crop may be the best the league has seen in three decades, headlined by Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.

Ready for the good news? Next year's class of draft-eligible college football QBs is loaded with talent.

This group of signal-callers has a bona fide potential No. 1 pick in the making and plenty of others who could grow into first-round draft material. While these passers vary in skill set, they have been very productive, in some cases historically so. But most importantly, the simple eye and gut tests tell you that unlike 2013's crew, the 2014 group is loaded with the type of leaders of men and leaders of franchises whom every NFL GM and head coach covets.

In 10 of the past 13 years, the first guy strutting out of the NFL draft green room has been a quarterback (the lone exceptions being Jake Long in 2008, Mario Williams in 2006 and Eric Fisher in 2013). After a one-year hiatus in this year's draft, I expect that trend to continue in 2014.

Here is my ranking of the top five QB prospects for the 2014 NFL draft, along with five more guys to keep an eye on. Look for all 10 of these signal-callers to be star performers in college football this season.

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Cardinals

"He would be the top guy taken in [the 2013] draft," said ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore. "Accuracy, toughness, smart and that special something you feel when watching him up close. He simply knows how to throw guys open." Many scouts similarly assess the 6-foot-3, 220-pound QB. Bridgewater is similar to an ace pitcher in that when you watch him throw, you clearly get the sense that his "stuff" is different.